Thursday, January 14, 2016


Jackie Simmons
Specialist for students with hearing loss
Carteret County Schools, NC
TTEC 2015

I am privileged to be part of the Trail to Every Classroom program. I live on the coast of North Carolina in what I refer to as The Promise Land and a little piece of Paradise. My YO-HI (yoga and hiking program ) will begin in one our local high schools here in January. All that said, my connections with the Appalachian Trail are challenged by my distance as you can well imagine.
In my last hike on the Appalachian Trail, I found myself for a couple of nights in the hostel in Damascus, Virginia. There were few hikers, but there were several long distance cyclists stopping in for a rest spot, to take showers, or simply to regroup as most backpackers do. It was through them I discovered an online hospitality website called It hosts long distance cyclists offering them a place to camp, a bedroom, meals, transportation, or whatever the host is able to provide. I joined when I returned home to give back in some capacity and return some of the kindness shown to me as a backpacker.

I have hosted cyclists from all over the world on all different sorts of adventures. They have come from different walks of life: the financial world, teachers, a lifeguard, a detective, a policeman…much like the AT hiking community. As much as I would like to live under a rock sometimes, I know we are all built for community. We should take care of each other, share stories and information and be kind to those who cross our path. We should listen. 

My most recent guest was not a cyclist, but a long distance backpacker. He was on a long distance hike from Key West, Florida to the Canadian border. He was a previous AT section hiker and completed the entire trail as well as hiking cross country in sections. He was supported by his lovely wife. It was so nice to connect with a hiker through a cyclists hospitality website. They stayed with me for three evenings, and shared in people and places in my coastal community.

Community requires commitment. It is an integral part of the TTEC program. It is also important to us as individuals. Cultivating commitment requires giving of your time and your resources …sacrificially sometimes. Cultivating community requires a general interest and compassion for people that comes with frequency. We all know one of the benefits of hiking the AT is the community we encounter. Build and cultivate community wherever you are. You never know the connections made. Those you serve will remember your hospitality and investment in their journey! And…join!

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North Carolina NCCAT participants

North Carolina NCCAT participants
At the Wayah Bald Fire Tower

Mary Jane

Mary Jane
On top of Silers Bald